Opal Photography


I photograph all my stones in my office where I have three 4100K CFL spot lamps (sunlight is around 4800K, but I’ve found those lamps to have too much blue) in an adjustable ceiling mount, so thy point down (from over my shoulder) to a photographing desk, to avoid most reflections. But this really isn’t much light so I end up using a tripod for my photography as most of the photographs are done using exposure times of around 1/8 of a second to 1/20th of a second with f-stops of F-4 to F-5, so the depth of field is sufficient to keep the whole stone in focus.  These slow exposure time would create unacceptable motion or blur in my photographs if the camera was hand held, so a tripod is mandatory.  And all photography is done using manual metering mode.  Auto light metering will overexpose the stones…especially white opal, since I am photographing on a dark background.

At least for now I have a Nikon P510 camera, but I go through a camera every couple years since I am doing so many photographs.  It seems like the auto focus doesn’t hold up well.  And it’s easy to bump a camera on a tripod and break the camera…oops.  The Nikon Coolpix  P510 is heavy on the greens (tans and grays have a green tint) and unfortunately reds don’t show up well either.  So I use “Auto Color” adjustment in Photoshop Elements 2012.  This nicely corrects the camera color deficiency without affecting the saturation or hue.  In Elements 2012, I also use “Auto Contrast” and “Auto Sharpen” and then finally adjust the “Brightness” manually to match whatever I am photographing.  It usually works well and have had few complaints that the photograph looks too good…something I desperately try to avoid.  I would rather have people pleasantly surprised when they open the package I’ve shipped them, rather than be disappointed.  In some instances I hold the stone under a 4100K lamp on my computer desk to be sure the image on my monitor matches the stone when doing adjustments in Photoshop Elements.  Any questions or suggestions please call me (Steve) at 406-651-4947.